Uncertainty With Salary Cap Affects Decision Making Process Toward Free Agency

INDIANAPOLIS – It's hard not to get swept up in the constant conversation surrounding Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray this offseason. After all, the duo combined for 145 receptions, 3,581 all-purpose yards and 29 touchdowns in 2014.

What the Cowboys decide to do with the pair of Pro Bowlers will help define their 2015 offseason, not to mention many seasons to come.

Given the importance of those decisions, it's easy to lose focus on some basic truths. For instance, as team executive vice president Stephen Jones quickly pointed out on Tuesday – the Cowboys don't even yet know how much money they have to work with this offseason. With three weeks still to wait until the start of free agency, the NFL has yet to announce a hard salary cap.

"We're having different conversations with different guys. With the bigger ones, we're trying to get our hands around just what we can do," Jones said. "We still don't have a hard salary cap from the league yet. That makes a small difference in terms of what you have."

The 2015 salary cap is projected to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $140 million, but that is still subject to change. The Cowboys aren't in the same dire situation as previous years because they're already under the salary cap, but it still helps them determine how much wiggle room they have.

Jones said he was hopeful to have those figures "sooner rather than later," but he wasn't sure as of yet.

When considering All-Pro players like Bryant and Murray, who are bound to command big salaries and gaudy signing bonuses, that creates a tricky proposition.

"When you're talking about the bigger ones, it's hard," Jones said. "A little bit, that's what I've shared with some of our guys is, until we have a good feel for what our cap situation is going to be like, it's really hard for us to put our best foot forward."

That's not to say the Cowboys are completely limited in what they can accomplish, though. The club signed starting left guard Ronald Leary and reserve tackle Darrion Weems to one-year deals on Tuesday. Jones said the uncertainty shouldn't prevent them from signing those types of smaller, less expensive deals.

"I think the smaller ones we can sign. I think we're making progress on some, we'll see," Jones said.

There's still no shortage of work to be done. On top of the  biggest two deals to decide on, there is a multitude of other free agents from last year's roster – Justin Durant, Rolando McClain, Sterling Moore and Doug Free, to name a few.

Without elaborating, Jones said he thought the front office has a good handle on how those conversations are developing. In the meantime, patience still seems to be the name of the game.

"We just have to make good, sound decisions," Jones said. "We've always felt that we can get things done that you need to get done, but at the same time you want to make sure it's the right thing that you're getting done."

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